Families Make Emotional Video for New Parents of Kids With Down Syndrome

Photographer Julie Willson debuted her portrait series of children with Down syndrome earlier this fall. The project was inspired by her late sister Dina, who had Down syndrome.

After an incredible response to the portraits, Willson invited all 11 families to come to Fusion Church in New Jersey this past weekend to share their stories in a video documentary. In honor of what would have been Dina’s 40th birthday on Thursday, Willson shared a clip from the documentary, “There’s Nothing Down About Down Syndrome.”

“Down syndrome is sadly looked at as a negative thing but after watching this video, you will see how wonderful it can be,” Willson wrote alongside the clip on YouTube. “I grew up with a sister who had Down syndrome and she was the absolute light of our family. My hope is that I can help make a change and to help you all realize that ‘there’s nothing down about Down syndrome.’”

Willson asked the families what advice they’d give to other new parents of children with Down syndrome, and she also asked them to share their emotions before and after they welcomed their babies.

“There’s nobody to tell you that it’s an amazing journey,” one mother explained between tears. “That she’s going to bring smiles to your life every single day, nobody tells you that. They tell you she’s not going to walk in a year, they tell you that she’s not going to talk in a year.”

“You have no concept of how your life is going to be blessed beyond measure by your child,” another parent added. “And I know you’re not ready to hear it now, but in the days to come you will see. There’s nothing in the world that could equate to the love that they’re going to bring into your lives.”

Willson told The Mighty she hopes discussions like these will raise awareness for Down syndrome and encourage society to embrace children with extra chromosomes.

“I think it’s going help a lot of parents cope with the news of their child’s diagnosis,” Willson told The Mighty. “My plan is to send this video out to doctor offices and hospitals nationwide so that when a parent receives their child’s Down syndrome diagnosis, they can watch this and know that everything is going to be okay.”

Willson told The Mighty that the film is slated for release on March 21, 2016 in honor of World Down Syndrome Day.

For more of Julie Willson’s photography, be sure to visit her Facebook page.

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